When Howard Dolphin, at age 67, was inducted into Washington’s Track and Field Coaches Hall of Fame the last weekend in May, he was not done coaching.
That same weekend, two of his charges, West Valley’s Mike Schroder in the javelin and Kaci Stansbury in the shot put and discus both placed at state.
Retirement from track hasn’t been an option for Dolphin who was a teaching and coaching fixture at East Valley High School for 32 years.
He witnessed tiny Otis Orchards High’s metamorphosis into near-AAA status as EV. Sandy Beach Resort, which he owns with his wife, Mary Floy and brother-in-law and sister-in-law Joe and Betty Trembly, was once a popular family recreation destination. Today it is a 60-unit mobile home park.
But track and field has been a constant. Since leaving teaching at EV in 1982 and as head coach in 1984 he continues helping coach, for the past nine years with son-in-law Jim McLachlan at West Valley.
“If anything I think I’ve gotten to be more fanatic about track possibly than ever before,” said Dolphin.
The Dolphin abode overlooking Liberty Lake houses a wealth of memories and memorabilia.
Surrounding his induction plaque on the wall of his office are pictures of Knight athletes who, over the years, earned 19 individual state championships and the school’s State AA team title in 1979.
They serve as reminders of a successful 43-year coaching career in both track and field and cross country that is ongoing.
Dolphin was a co-founder of the track program at Otis Orchards High, where he had been hired in 1952 as teacher and basketball coach.
“My temperament didn’t seem to lend itself to basketball,” Dolphin said. “I’d be upset with a loss for a couple of days and couldn’t seem to let it go.”
It was in track that his athletes experienced success, easing his decision to give up a position as an upper elementary school principal to coach at the new East Valley in 1960.
The Knights developed a reputation as a power in track and field under Dolphin. Current EV coach Dave McCarty, was one of his state distance champions. He overcame injuries for a surprise mile title in 1970 in the equivalent of a 4:14.8 1,600, the school’s second best.
“Part of his charisma was his success,” said McCarty. “He had state champions and even nowadays kids will go to successful programs.”
A former sprinter-long jumper, McCarty added that Dolphin wasn’t a cheerleader but someone who instilled belief. Dolphin never said he couldn’t come back from his injuries even after running a 5:02 mile two weeks before state.
A 1946 WV graduate, Dolphin got his teaching credentials from Eastern Washington State College after two years of military service.
Much of what he learned about track and field came from attending clinics and reading.
“That’s what you do when kids show an ability,” Dolphin said. “I think I could do a better job of teaching now than I did then.”
Dolphin didn’t do badly. Several of his athletes own still current state and school records.
Mike Shill won five state championships, three in the shot put, including a record 64-8, and others in the javelin and discus.
Shot putter Bill Kelling, two-miler Dave McCallum, javelin thrower Gene Lorenzen, a record holder at 236-5, and half miler John Childs were double winners.
Several went on to successful college careers, including NCAA steeplechase runnerup Ted Mecham at Brigham Young University,
Others followed him into coaching, including his son-in-law Jim McLachlan at WV and McCarty.
“The kids worked harder,” said Dolphin. “Today they are to eager to get to practice, get done and go.”
He remembered that McCallum, whose twomile record is 13 seconds faster than anyone else’s in school history, would run around a big stump on a hill behind EV’s track.
“He would say he just wanted to run it a few more times,” said Dolphin. “He’d run up and down the hill until he couldn’t walk. Lorenzen would say he just wanted to take a few more throws.”
But Dolphin doesn’t dwell on the past. Instead, he says, you adapt.
He’d just as soon talk about the future of his throwers at WV.
There is no talk of quitting as long as he remains healthy.
But he is honored by his charter induction into the Hall of Fame.
“When you are in the same category as (the late Washington State University coach Jack) Mooberry, that’s pretty good company,” Dolphin said. “I hope I have made a difference in some kids’ lives and done a good job with them.”
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